“Working with the Homeless:
How to Survive & Thrive in the Trenches”
June 13-14, 2016
Richmond Memorial Auditorium, 403 Civic Center Plaza, Richmond, CA
If you were among the professionals, volunteers, civic leaders, and concerned citizens who participated in our 7th Annual Homeless Workforce Conference, thank you very much!
This Conference provided vital knowledge, skills, and support for those who work with vulnerable populations to survive and thrive “in the trenches.” It also provided leadership resources to support front line workers as they help the homeless and those at risk of homelessness to re-enter the workforce for the long term.
Download the 2016 Conference Program or get an overview of “Working with the Homeless: How to Survive & Thrive in the Trenches” below.
Monday, June 13: How to Survive and Thrive in the Trenches
“Welcome to the Homeless Workforce Conference” — Mojdeh Mehdizadeh, MA (Conference Co-Chair and President, Contra Costa College, San Pablo, CA). The success of the homeless and other vulnerable populations in re-entering the workforce depends on the job performance of those tasked to help them. This Conference helps these helpers — professionals, volunteers, and others — to avoid burn out and sustain their compassion and productivity.
“Welcome to Richmond” – Mayor Tom Butt (City of Richmond, Richmond, CA). Mayor Butt leads one of California’s most diverse and dynamic cities with the experience of more than 20 years on the Richmond City Council, as former Vice Mayor, and as a long-time Richmond resident and local business owner. Mayor Butt recognizes the unique role of the Conference in providing specialized training and public education to help all Richmond residents achieve a better quality of life and make Richmond a livable, healthy, and sustainable community of strong neighborhoods.
“Provider Health and Wellness: Critical to Helping the Most Vulnerable” — Khatera Aslami-Tamplen (Behavioral Health Care Services, Alameda County, CA). Khatera’s personal experiences as a refugee fleeing the Afghan-Soviet War, struggling with mental health issues, and losing a child inspire her efforts to help the most vulnerable, especially those who suffer health inequities, mental health stigma, and discrimination.
As the Consumer Empowerment Manager for Alameda County BHCS and an Advanced Level Wellness Recovery Action Plan Facilitator, Khatera specializes in forging community partnerships and alliances inorder to promote wellness, recovery, resiliency, and social inclusion.
Keynote: “Creating a Culture of Wellness” — Matt Bennett, MBA, MA (Coldspring Center, Denver, CO). Every organization serving the homeless and other vulnerable populations faces the challenge of employee burnout or other dysfunction of front line employees. These employees “work in the trenches” and experience vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue.
The toll is especially extreme among employees who work with the most vulnerable and demanding of compassion. However, when an organization succeeds in creating a culture of wellness, then the health and resilience of employees enables them to better perform their duties. The culture of wellness may include a sanctuary or place where suffering employees can find safety, hope, and healing. In turn, these employees are better prepared to play a larger role in individual and community well being.
The organization’s ability to protect, sustain, and heal its own staff shows that it values the professional capacity and performance of its employees who work in one of the most intense and psychologically challenging professions. They only can deliver effective services through healthy organizations and supportive systems. This keynote address explores how organizations can create safe, innovative, and engaging spaces where staff thrive in order to do the hard work of empowering the most vulnerable to change their lives.
Monday, June 13: Luncheon
Luncheon Opening: “Activism — the Richmond Example” — Vice Mayor Eduardo Martinez (City of Richmond, Richmond, CA). A lifelong activist for human rights and economic justice, Eduardo offers brief remarks on Richmond’s vibrant activism and introduces luncheon speaker Marilyn Langlois.
Luncheon Address: “Dignity for All: Snapshots from Around the World” — Marilyn Langlois (Activist, Richmond, CA). A Bay Area native and Richmond resident who has supported social movements in her home community and communities in other parts of the world, Marilyn Langlois is a co-founder of the Richmond Progressive Alliance and the former Community Advocate in the office of former Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin. Marilyn is a leader in community-based efforts to reduce violent crime, hold large corporations accountable, improve local quality of life, and give voice to the homeless who are struggling to improve their lives.
Marilyn’s luncheon address highlights snapshots and insights gained during decades of activism in her hometown of Richmond, as well as visits to Haiti, Cuba, El Salvador, Mexico, Austria, Spain, Vietnam, North Korea, India, Tanzania, and Uganda. She invites Conference participants to “connect the dots” and find common themes in worldwide community-based efforts to eradicate poverty and misery at their roots.
Tuesday, June 14: Youth Track
“Welcome to Youthful Richmond” — Jael Myrick (City Council Member, City of Richmond, Richmond, CA). Council Member Myrick has been involved in the planning and implementation of Saffron Strand’s Annual Homeless Workforce Conference since the first Conference in 2010. A former Chair of Saffron Strand, in addition to his role in Richmond city government, he is Field Representative of the Office of California Assembly Member Nancy Skinner. Since 2013, he has led the Tuesday plenary focus on engaging homeless and at-risk youth, empowering them through education and training to enter the workforce in jobs that pave the way to careers.
Keynote: “How Front Line Workers Can Become Effective and Inspiring Servant Leaders” — Patricia Falotico (Robert K. Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership, Atlanta, GA). When it comes to low-income communities, we’re all front line workers — whether we’re health or social service providers, business professionals, or civic leaders. We know how difficult it is to help the poorest, most vulnerable people enter the workforce and achieve economic independence. Our organizations mostly use a conventional, hierarchical, leader-first form of leadership that is not well suited for working with the vulnerable and often limits the quality and outcomes of services for the vulnerable. By contrast, servant leadership puts the service relationship first, not the leadership relationship. Servant leadership is a natural and effective form of leadership for anyone working with the homeless and other vulnerable populations. Servant leaders constantly ask: Are those we serve growing as persons? Are they becoming healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to serve others? Servant leadership is a philosophy and set of practices that enriches the lives of both those who need help and those who want to help. It also builds better organizations and ultimately creates more just and caring communities.
Keynote: “THRIVE for Self-Care” — Matt Bennett, MBA, MA (Coldspring Center, Denver, CO). As professionals helping youth as well as adults, we are at risk of experiencing issues that mirror those of the traumatized individuals we serve. Research demonstrates the dangerous impact on physical and emotional health when exposure to trauma is combined with a stressful work environment. Knowledge is the best defense against burn-out, vicarious trauma, and compassion fatigue. THRIVE training goes further by addressing the critical elements of health to enhance productivity and quality of work. Utilizing research in neurobiology, psychology, and business, THRIVE provides skills for those working in the community to be more effective and efficient at work, allowing for the highest level of services possible.
“Your Best Business Self: Building Bridges with the Homeless” — Mary Putman (Founder and CEO, The Reciprocity Collective, Denver, CO). Following a successful career in the hospitality industry, Mary Putman found her place in the world of social justice. She helped the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless establish a full service restaurant that provided food service skills training and transitional employment opportunities for people experiencing homelessness. Now, Mary’s new social enterprise — The Reciprocity Collective — challenges her to apply her business and management experience as well as her hard-won skills in self-care to build bridges between the business community, non-profits, and the homeless workforce. “The objective,” Mary says, “is to build dynamic partnerships to guide our population of un-housed individuals forward — in employment and all aspects of realizing their full potential of healthy and enriched lives.”
Through workshops at Saffron Strand’s 7th Annual Homeless Workforce Conference, professionals in health care, housing, and employment services learn to help their peers and colleagues to “survive and survive in the trenches” in order to increase the employability and long-term, sustainable, career-oriented employment of their homeless and at-risk patients, clients, and consumers.
Workshops on Monday, June 13 focuses on the most serious barriers to employment and solutions for vulnerable persons, particularly the homeless and those at risk of homelessness. The Tuesday, June 14 workshops followed our youth track plenary, also focusing on health and wellness of providers who help youth enter or re-enter the workforce.
Monday Workshops — Period 1
“Trauma Informed Care” — Matt Bennett, MBA, MA (Coldsprings Center, Denver, CO). Recent research on the brain and trauma gives those working in the community a new paradigm to improve outcomes with individuals experiencing homelessness, substance abuse, mental health issues, post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from military service, and poverty. Understanding how trauma impacts brain development puts harmful behaviors and destructive thinking patterns in context, and gives helpers a roadmap to build relationships and promote healing and growth. This workshop presents the Trauma Informed paradigm in a practical context, giving learners both a theoretical basis and tools to apply immediately to their work with individuals. Through the application of this Trauma Informed paradigm, communities and service providers can minimize re-traumatization while creating an environment for the traumatized individual to regain control of their lives and their health.
Those attending Trauma Informed Care can achieve the following learning objectives:
- Trauma informed principles and theories
- How the brain is impacted by trauma
- The role of trauma in human development
- How the structure of the brain impacts behaviors
- The role of relationships in brain development and behaviors
- How programs and interventions can promote healing and growth
“Workplace Bullying: What It Is and What To Do About It — Part 1” — Susan Forster, MEd, SPHR, SHRM-SCP (Core Change Work Consulting, Berkeley, CA) and Yvonne Nair (Saffron Strand, Inc., Richmond, CA). Workplace bullying is both a significant health hazard and a high-risk conduct problem. It generates unnecessary expenditures of human and financial resources and creates exposure to liability. This two-part workshop increases awareness of the facts, complexity, and impact of workplace bullying. The key message is that bullying is preventable. Workshop participants learn solutions that individuals, groups, and employers can use to build a positive workplace where bullying does not perpetuate. Topics covered in Part 1 include:
- Bullying is interpersonal violence.
- The evolving legal framework includes new California legislation AB2053.
- Myths are prevalent and current administration systems to address workplace bullying are ineffective.
- The 2014 U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey from the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) details facts, trends, impacts on targets of bullying and employers.
“Management Strategies for Reducing Stress and Burnout among Homeless Service Provider Personnel” — Larry Robbin (Robbin and Associates, Oakland, CA). Personnel in homeless organizations often feel like they are under a constant state of stress, burnout, and trauma transference problems. Most organizations are overwhelmed providing services, coping with the lack of resources and funding. But, a healthier workplace means improvements in service delivery, personnel job satisfaction, performance and retention as well as leading to the best outcomes with people who are homeless. This workshop provides a wide variety of management strategies designed to help deal with stress, burnout, and trauma transference. These strategies start with the hiring and onboarding process and continue on into the program design, culture, rituals, and management style. If you want to make your homeless organization a better place to work and provide better services, don’t miss this workshop!
“Homeless Homes Project: Innovative, Mobile Shelters for the Homeless” — Gregory Kloehn (Homeless Homes Project, Oakland, CA). The Homeless Homes Project is an asymmetrical approach to modern living where collective ideas, good will, and basic construction skills unite to re-purpose the abundance of everyday garbage into viable living space. This workshop explores how to source materials from illegal street dumping, commercial waste, and excess household items to build unique homes that are mobile so that they can accommodate the nomadic lifestyle of our homeless residents.
“The Stories We Carry: A Circle for Catch and Release” — Paul Garber, BA, MA (Oakland, CA). This creative writing workshop helps those in helping professions. “Our intention,” Paul says, “is to explore a story we’ve been carrying inside whose time has come to be let go. There’s time for guided reflection followed by 10-15 minutes of writing. Then some writers may choose to share their stories in a circle of deep listening, while others may opt not to share.” At the conclusion of the workshop, Paul demonstrates how to fold the stories into paper boats for ritual release upon the waters — either a real body of water or the water of spirit at home. Paper and colored pens provided.
Monday Workshops — Period 2
“Workplace Bullying: What It Is and What To Do About It — Part 2” — Susan Forster, MEd, SPHR, SHRM-SCP (Susan Forster Associates, Berkeley, CA) and Yvonne Nair (Saffron Strand, Inc., Richmond, CA). Workplace bullying is both a significant health hazard and a high-risk conduct problem. It generates unnecessary expenditures of human and financial resources and creates exposure to liability. This two-part workshop increases awareness of the facts, complexity, and impact of workplace bullying. The key message is that bullying is preventable. Workshop participants learn solutions that individuals, groups, and employers can use to build a positive workplace where bullying does not perpetuate. Topics covered in Part 2 include:
- Bullying is systemic and organizational factors enable it.
- Managers — are they malignant or clueless?
- What are common abusive bullying tactics and mobbing?
- Individual, work group, and organizational strategies can prevent, respond, and eliminate bullying.
“The Power of Music” — Benita Hopkins (Love Never Fails, Dublin, CA). Music can alter our mood, stir our emotions, and may even lead us to behave in unusual ways. Some claim that music therapy works well for them, while others remain more skeptical. Yet there is little doubt that music can affect us and can be used effectively to aid relaxation and stress relief. This workshop uses music therapy as a tool of relaxation, healing, and self-expression, aiming to help the most vulnerable and those who work with them. Learning objectives include the use of music to reduce stress and relieve tension, alter mood, and heal the body and mind.
“Billowing: Connecting to Your Place of Peace” — Vanessa Scott (Love Never Fails, Dublin, CA). In this workshop, the healing community can learn how to use movement, billows, and flags as a vehicle for relaxation and connecting to our “place of peace.” The visual is vital. The workshop discusses colors and the ways in which they change the atmosphere and give us new revelation about who we are. Let the wind blow….
“Drum Circle: Tuning Into Your Playfulness” — Paul Garber, BA, MA (Oakland, CA). A drum circle is a musical gathering of shared experience where the drums and drumming become a vehicle to take participants to a new destination. This is an interactive workshop with drums provided. “African djembés,” Paul says, “are sound vessels with a magical ability to evoke states of blissful trance. If played with the best of intentions we may hear echoes of a common shared heritage. After all, during our first nine months, each of us inhabited a timeless rhythmic space where the soulful beating of two hearts formed our earliest experience of being alive.” Paul notes that the rhythms played in this workshop are time-tested, archetypal call and response patterns. “Be prepared,” he says. “Our Western minds will offer resistance, but we’ll play right on through like servants to a higher calling. It’s as simple as being attentive to the rhythmic pulse that leads us to our rightful place within an infinitely nourishing, dynamic beat.”
“Labyrinths for Healing, Meditation, Relaxation” — Chysandra Nair (Saffron Strand, Inc., Richmond, CA). Vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue are serious issues facing front line employees in social service programs. Providing alternative programs that address those issues not only helps manage stress but also increases productivity. Among such programs are labyrinths, which are a wonderful tool for healing, meditation, and relaxation. Labyrinths have been in use for over 4,000 years. Some of the earliest forms of labyrinths are found in Greece, dating back to 2,500-2,000 BCE. Their basic design is fundamental to nature. A labyrinth is a non-denominational way to help relax and meditate. Many cultures and religious traditions use a labyrinth as an aid in decision-making, spiritual guidance, and emotional and physical healing. People of all faiths and people longing to re-connect to faith come to walk a labyrinth. Walking a labyrinth clears the mind and gives insight.
“Trauma Informed Excellence — TIE — Leadership” — Matt Bennett, MBA, MA (Coldsprings Center, Denver, CO). This TIE Leadership workshop gives leaders the skills and knowledge to propel their community and organizations towards excellence. It provides a practical model designed to enhance staff health, while maximizing system and organizational outcomes. Participants leave this workshop with a new paradigm of leadership, along with a set of skills to implement in supervision of staff and management of programs.
Designed in an interactive and experiential format, this workshop challenges leaders to look at job responsibilities, staff, systems and agency through the Trauma Informed paradigm. This powerful experience provides approaches and strategies that can transform individuals, systems and the overall approach to helping others heal and grow. Whether the participant is an aspiring or experienced leader, he or she sees their role and work in a whole new light.
Those attending TIE — Leadership can achieve the following learning objectives:
- The impact of trauma and stress on staff, organizations, and systems
- The trauma informed paradigm and what leaders need to do to integrate it into their setting
- Concepts and approaches of Affective Leadership to prevent vicarious/secondary trauma and compassion fatigue
- Concepts and approaches of Intellectual Leadership to prevent burnout and maximize performance of staff
- How to develop a Trauma Informed Leadership Plan to increase the health of an organization’s staff and quality of services
“Commercially Sexually Exploited Youth” — Monique Thomas (Community Violence Solutions, San Pablo, CA). This workshop is specifically designed for service providers, foster parents, relative caregivers, and volunteers as a first step in combatting the commercial sexual exploitation of children in Richmond and other Bay Area communities. “We are working to raise awareness of the crisis at hand,” Ms. Thomas says, “and to increase your ability to identify commercially sexually exploited youth.” Homelessness is a gateway into to the commercial sex industry and the $32 billion human trafficking industry in the United States. This workshop provides an overview of commercial sexual exploitation at the local level, focusing on: Why homeless youth are so vulnerable and how they can be influenced by trafficking; identification of the warning signs and spotting “red flags” that indicate a child is being sexually exploited and victimized; and, how providers can be supportive to a survivor.
“Somatic Movement for Self Care and Care for Others” — Amy Lynch, MA (ARM [Art, Recreation, Movement] of Care, Walnut Creek, CA). “In the environment of caring for others,” Ms. Lynch says, “our first responsibility lies in our own self care. Becoming familiar with our own triggers, areas of strengths and weaknesses, and our body’s signals become the greatest skills we can have. We also model these same skills for those we work with.” As professional practitioners and volunteers working with the vulnerable and those at risk, she notes, we can become disillusioned and fatigued — all because we care so deeply. Thus, what we do when we are not at work is as important as what we do when we are at work. How we handle challenges, how we speak the truth, and how we honor our own emotional reality are components of helping to impart wellbeing to others. This workshop offers the opportunity to explore our own interests, ways of self care, problem solving abilities, and finding a good pace. All of these ways become prevention and intervention when faced with difficult situations.
“Exploring the Challenge of Self-Care for the Caregiver through Drama Therapy” — Judith Jones, MFT (Drama and Expressive Arts Therapist, Berkeley, CA). “Who, me? Take care of me?” The answer to these questions is “yes” and the theme of this workshop, which uses drama, play, and theatre exercises to identify some of the most challenging and triggering aspects of the work of caregiving. This workshop also reveals how these aspects affect each of us, in similar and different ways, and explores ways to care for ourselves as we continue to care for others.
“Artistic Healing” — Siu Ming Leung Garber (Soluna Visions, Oakland, CA). “This workshop,” Siu Ming says, “asks us to reflect upon our inner selves at the very moment of creation, as we explore healing dimensions, working with the essential components for painting — color, line, and space.” Finding colors and brushstrokes that resonate with our feelings can teach us the unexpected about who we are. As we create, we choose to be our true and present selves and we begin to grow, increasing our capacity to respond with greater energy and resolve, even burdened by the daily challenges we face. Likewise, we can begin to transform our daily challenges into accomplishments about which we can feel proud, as we’d like to feel about our artistic work. Of course, art therapy has side effects, like other remedies, but these can be cleaned off with soap and water. “So,” Siu Ming says, “let’s be ready for our hands to get happy dirty as we explore our relationship to self and environment, and learn about so much more in the doing.”
Luncheon Opening: “Advocacy — the Richmond Example” — Councilmember Vinay Pimplé (City of Richmond, Richmond, CA). As Master of Ceremony for the Advocacy Luncheon, Vinay opens the luncheon program, welcomes Conference participants, and offers brief remarks. Blind since he was 10 years old, Vinay is an accomplished attorney and community volunteer.
Keynote: Pastor Daniel Charles Damon (Pastor of First United Methodist Church, Richmond, CA and Associate Editor of Hymnody for Hope Publishing Company, Carol Stream, IL). As a mentor for Saffron Strand members, “Pastor Dan” brings an open, welcoming spirit and artistic sensitivity and devotion to inform our work with some of the Bay Area’s most vulnerable.
Jesse Curtis Awards
In collaboration with the Office of the Mayor of the City of Richmond, Saffron Strand presents the 2016 Jesse Curtis Awards for Reducing Homelessness in remembrance of a humble but remarkable member of the Richmond community.
2016 Awards Presentation – Mayor Tom Butt (City of Richmond, Richmond, CA). Long-time Richmond resident Jesse Curtis lived into her 90s and died in Richmond, homeless and alone. Despite her own homelessness, she helped many others who were homeless in Richmond. Jesse’s extraordinary kindness in action built a bridge to a better life for many who worked their way out of homelessness. Her memory lives on in many hearts she touched.
Homeless Citizen Achievement Award
Honoring a homeless Bay Area citizen who has made extraordinary progress, against all odds, in improving his or her job skills, employability, and economic independence.
Award recipient: Lenora Brown
Homelessness Program Achievement Award
Honoring a government, non-profit, or faith-based program’s extraordinary performance over the past year in helping to reduce homelessness in the Bay Area.
Award recipient: Gregory Kloehn, Homeless Homes Project
“Voice of the Homeless” Media Award
Honoring the leadership of a Bay Area corporate or individual print, broadcast, or web-based media source in reporting on homelessness issues most accurately and fairly over the past year.
Award recipient: Kevin Fagan, San Francisco Chronicle
Homelessness Advocacy in Action Award
Honoring a member of the Bay Area community who has been highly effective in advocating and achieving positive results with responsible, actionable, and sustainable solutions for homelessness.
Award recipient: Mary Fenelon, Mount Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church
Outstanding Volunteer Award
Honoring a member of the Bay Area community whose selfless, voluntary work has benefited the homeless and provided a great example to us all.
Award recipient: Diane Hall, community activist
Presented by the Chair of the Saffron Strand Board of Directors, honoring a dedicated and compassionate member of the community who has worked tirelessly and quietly behind the scenes to reduce homelessness.
Award recipient: First United Methodist Church, Point Richmond
Today’s overall unemployment rate — the lowest since the Great Recession — distracts from the growing problem of long-term, chronic unemployment. The homeless, hard-to-employ, and long-term unemployed need job skills and work-related social skills to match employers’ needs in a dynamic, technologically sophisticated job market. They also need access to health care and housing.
However, the success of the homeless and others in gaining marketable work skills and re-entering the workforce depends on the job performance of those tasked to help them. When these helpers — professionals, volunteers, and others — burn out or become less productive, then the risk of failure increases for their clients and consumers.
Our Conference provides training available in no other forum. Participants learn professional skills to help all vulnerable people gain work skills, get jobs they can sustain, and develop long-term careers. Conference participants also learn how to take care of themselves, so that they can sustain and improve trauma-informed services for their at-risk clients and consumers.
- Engage stakeholders in cost-effective, employment-focused solutions to homelessness, including the workforce of homeless and at-risk members of our communities
- Identify gaps, incentives, and disincentives in existing housing, health care, and employment programs for the homeless and practical ways to integrate new solutions
- Apply traditional and new best practices in the continuum of care and transition
- Focus on programs to optimize employability and career potential of homeless persons
- Use Richmond — where the homeless face every possible challenge — as the proving ground for new, employment-focused solutions to homelessness
Who Should Attend
- Employment development agencies, Workforce Investment Boards, and One-Stops
- Employment specialists, job developers, and vocational rehabilitation specialists
- Local and state homeless program administrators and executive staff
- Public health providers, outreach staff, case managers, and social workers
- Primary and emergency medical care, substance abuse, and mental health providers
- State legislators, their legislative staff, and local elected officials
- Family, drug, and criminal court judges and law enforcement leaders and police
- Non-profit organizations, advocates for the homeless, philanthropic foundations
- Community health center and hospital executives, staff, and board members
- Public housing providers, landlords, and tenants
- Local businesses affected by the homeless or concerned about increasing homelessness
- People who have experienced homelessness and achieved their own solutions
The professionals and volunteers who work with the homeless are crucial to helping them work their way out of homelessness and poverty. So much depends on these compassionate providers, yet they are extremely vulnerable. Their involvement in the lives of homeless people causes compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma that hurts their job performance, wellness, and personal relationships.
How do we help those who have committed themselves to helping some of the most vulnerable, damaged, and desperate in our communities? How do we help them survive “in the trenches” so they can help the homeless get back to work?
As in our previous six Conferences, Saffron Strand’s unique annual professional training and public education forum focuses on the absolute necessity of specialized employment services training for professionals, volunteers, and others who work with vulnerable populations.
Plenary sessions, workshops, and other activities provide education, training, and networking to empower Conference participants to help clients and consumers overcome barriers, gain skills, and begin to build careers.
Saffron Strand’s 2016 Conference will educate professionals and other stakeholders on the latest research, best practices, and outstanding examples nationwide, showing how to truly help the homeless re-enter the workforce for the long term while building and sustaining their own resilience and wellness.
PLEASE THANK OUR 2016 CONFERENCE SPONSORS!
For More Information
Saffron Strand, Inc.
147 West Richmond Ave., Suite C
Point Richmond, CA 94801
Contact: Yvonne Nair